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HM Revenue and Customs Brief 12/11


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Issued on 01 April 2011

Changes to time limits for Excise Duty assessments and claims to overpayments


The time limit for making claims for repayment of Excise Duty overpaid and Excise Duty assessments increases from three years to four from 1 April 2011.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will apply transitional arrangements between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012. From 1 April 2012 the new time limit will operate fully.

Claims for drawback and other duty reliefs have their own rules and time limits and are not covered in this brief.

This brief explains the transitional arrangements. It also details the changed circumstances when HMRC may raise assessments for an extended 20 year period.

The new time limits affect:

  • Air Passenger Duty
  • Alcohol Liquors Duty
  • Amusement Machine Licence Duty
  • Bingo Duty
  • Gaming Duty
  • General Betting Duty
  • Hydrocarbon Oils Duty
  • Lottery Duty
  • Pool Betting Duty
  • Remote Gaming Duty
  • Tobacco Products Duty


Under the review of HMRC's powers, deterrents and safeguards changes to legislation have aligned and modernised the framework for the taxes and duties that HMRC administers. Aligning time limits reduces compliance costs for our customers and makes HMRC's compliance checks easier.

Until 31 March 2011, the time limit for Excise Duty assessments was three years from the end of the accounting period or relevant date. For claims to overpaid duty the time limit was three years from date of payment. Schedule 13 Finance (No 3) Act 2010 extends the time limits to four years from 1 April 2011.

Transitional arrangements for claims and assessments between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 are made through Statutory Instrument 2011 No 777 (C.31).

HMRC will apply the time limits to:

  • claims for repayments of overpaid duty under the following provisions
    - recovery of overpaid excise duty (Section 137A(4) CEMA 1979)
    - Excise Duty payments by Commissioners in case of error or delay (Schedule 3 FA 2001)
  • determine which assessments can be made in respect of Section 12 Finance Act 1994 and for all the specific provisions listed in it

The guidance HMRC use internally is in the Compliance Handbook. (See below)

The transitional period

To ensure that any assessments or claims that were out of time at midnight on 31 March 2011 are not brought back into time because of the new four year limit, there will be a transitional period from 31 March 2011 to 1 April 2012. During this period:

  • you cannot make a repayment claim for duty which was overpaid before 1 April 2008
  • HMRC cannot make an assessment if the liability to duty occurred before 1 April 2008, unless the extended 20 year time limit applies

After 31 March 2012 the four year time limit for assessments and repayment claims will apply in full.

Old rules Transitional rules New rules
Up to 31 March 2011 From 1 April 2011 until 31 March 2012 From 1 April 2012
Time limit is three years. Assessments or claims for repayment cannot be made for periods ending/duty points dated before 1 April 2008. Time limit is four years.

It remains the case that under section 12 of Finance Act 1994 HMRC must make an assessment within one year of the evidence of facts relied upon for making that assessment. This requirement does not change after 1 April 2012.

The extended 20 year time limit

HMRC will retain the extended time limit for excise assessments at 20 years from the end of the time when a personís liability to a duty of excise arose. The new arrangements do not affect that time limit but they do change the circumstances when the extended time limit can be used.

For duty points/accounting periods arising on or ending before 1 April 2011 the 20 year time limit applies where duty is due because you did something that:

  • resulted in a penalty for evasion of Excise Duty
  • could have resulted in proceedings for an offence of fraud or dishonesty

For duty points/accounting periods ending after 31 March 2011, the 20 year time limit applies where:

  • duty has been lost because of your deliberate behaviour, or the deliberate behaviour of someone acting for you
  • you have deliberately failed to comply with your obligation to notify HMRC
  • you have taken part in a transaction knowing that it was intended to cause a loss of duty
  • Amusement Machine Licence Duty has been lost because of your deliberate behaviour or the deliberate behaviour of another person acting for you
  • you have taken part in a transaction knowing that it was intended to cause a loss of Amusement Machine Licence Duty

More information

Compliance Handbook

New penalties internet page

Q&A briefing on all penalty changes

About the Author

© Crown Copyright 2011.

A licence is needed to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-04-06 11:13:54 in Tax Articles

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